Meg Duffy is a guitar wizard and this is a very subtle display of her talents. It's an album of cool restraint, you may not even be able to pick out the complicated work happening behind the scenes.
Best of 2017: 80-71
-80: Hand Habits - Wildly Idle
-79: Sampha - Process
This is the most straight up soul/R&B I was into this year, and it's a real treat of an album even if it isn't your genre of choice. Meditative and calm, this is moving introspection.
-78: Anna St. Louis - First Songs
One of the first signings to Kevin Morby's new record Woodsist imprint, this one is a little too on the nose for me. But in the same way that Morby's Harlem River pales in comparison to where he's gone, this has the makings of something I'll be interesting to see where it goes when she finds her own voice a little more.
-77: Happyness - Write In
I did enjoy 2015's "Weird Little Birthday", but the range of moods and off-beat humor made for a less cohesive listen. This drops a lot of that for something more subdued and intentional. It's still a little cornball but adds a necessary maturity.
-76: Lowland Hum - Thin
Sometimes, music can just be nice. It doesn't have to be edgy or groundbreaking. This is one of the nicest albums you could ask for.
-75: Allison Crutchfield - Tourist in this Town
This feels like an amalgam of sounds from the early 2000s to now but also something entirely it's own, alternating between synthy drama and sunny..well...drama. It's dramatic, but still plenty of fun.
-74: LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
I'm not mad about these guys returning- there's no point in forcing art if it isn't coming and no point in denying it if it is. This album, though frenetic and unsettling in the way they have frequently been, has gems to rival some of their best to date.
-73: Joan Shelley - Joan Shelley
This is a quiet, contemplative, beautiful work of folk from a true master.
-72: Jeff Tweedy - Together At Last
This maybe isn't fair- it's not new material, but this collection of acoustic versions from across his impressive career is too good to ignore. Some more recognizable than others, a lot of these songs belong in the pantheon of great american songs. There's a lot more going on in Wilco than just the songwriting, but this is a good reminder of how powerful and idiosyncratic Jeff's voice is.
-71: Rainer Maria - S/T
I hadn't listened to these guys since the early 2000's, and this album still captures elements of their indie-emo sound but feels like a heavier, more mature version of it. This probably works to their benefit- I've grown as well in ways that make me less receptible to some of the more saccharine elements of their sound.